The Risks from Working at Low Heights

Who could benefit from using the Jolly Back chair?

All adults working with young children in educational and care settings (teachers, teaching assistants, student teachers, support workers, parent/carer helpers, therapists, dinner staff, and nursery nurses etc) could benefit. In order to fulfil BSEN1729 parts 1 and 2 for children, the following heights of furniture are required in the classroom.

Age (years) 1 – 2 3 – 5 5 – 7 7 – 9 9 - 13
Seat Height (cm) 26 31 35 38 43
Table Height (cm) 40 - 46 53 59 64 71

(N.B. A standard office chair has a minimum seat height of typically 42cm with a seat width and depth of 45cm (minimum). Some "teacher's office chairs" have a minimum seat height of 38cm but seat widths and depths remain over 45cm).

Work Related Musculoskeletal Disorders in UK Early Years and Primary Teaching Professionals


Lorna Taylor, a Chartered Physiotherapist working within primary and early year’s settings and campaigner for improved back health, shares the findings of her survey, the first of its kind in the UK.


There is much anecdotal evidence amongst education professionals about the aches and pains they experience at work and also from healthcare professionals (e.g. physiotherapists, chiropractors, osteopaths) who treat them - and understandably so because of the low working heights and their associated risks naturally encountered. However, it does not make it acceptable.

What are Musculo-skeletal Disorders (MSDs)?

MSDs, defined by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) “include problems such as low back pain, joint injuries and repetitive strain injuries of various sorts”. Areas which can create a risk include (HSE):

  • Repetitive and heavy lifting
  • bending and twisting repeating an action too frequently
  • uncomfortable working position
  • exerting too much force
  • working too long without breaks
  • adverse working environment (e.g. hot. cold)
  • psychosocial factors (e.g. high job demands, time pressures and lack of control)
  • not receiving and acting upon reports of symptoms quick enough

The HSE has identified MSDs as a priority because although “they have the potential to ruin people’s lives and they impose heavy costs on employers and society, “you can do things to prevent or minimise MSDs and prevention measures are cost effective”.

Adult on chair

Child on Cushion

Child on Chair